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Getting to the Bottom of Home Energy Use

July/August 2011
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2011 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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July 01, 2011
In 1949, according to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential electricity consumption was 5% of total residential energy consumption. By 2009, it was 40%. This rise is attributable to many factors—appliance and equipment saturation, innovations in electronic technology, larger houses, and greater disposable income, among others. According to DOE, end-use electricity consumption will continue to grow as a percentage of total household energy consumption. As electricity consumption grows, so does base-load household electricity consumption—that year-round electrical load upon which seasonal electrical loads, like air-conditioning and space heating, are stacked. Water heating, refrigerators and freezers, lighting, laundry and kitchen appliances, electronics and entertainment devices, pumps, and miscellaneous plugged-in loads are common base-load end uses. All additional electricity use—from occasionally used devices, tools, or equipment; visitors; short-term construction jobs; and so on—is consumed on top of base-load use. And the fervent appetite for new and as-yet-unimagined appliances and electronic devices is expected to climb. Growth is why base-load end use is an important topic.

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